July 2018 Guest Speaker: Harold Dotson

The guest speaker for July (2018) was Harold Dotson.  Harold started out as a cabinet and furniture maker from Pickens, South Carolina.  He now specializes in custom rocking chairs.

Harold starts his chairs from a selection of 8/4 wood.  It leaves a lot of waste, but in the end he will use what’s left over for other projects or as firewood.  One very noticeable trait of Harold’s chairs is that he laminates the rockers with several thin strips of wood in a form. He uses epoxy on the leg and seat joints to prevent “creep”.  It forms a very sold and strong joint and he’s found it to be better than wood glue.

The slats of the chair are made on a bandsaw and are designed to make the chair more comfortable.  In fact, all of his designs are derived from 30 years of experimenting to find what works and what doesn’t.  Harold started with a basic design from a magazine back in the 1980s and progressed from there.

Harold shared with us the secret to a good rocking chair.

The chair becomes an extension of the person sitting in it.  A custom piece will become a family heirloom such as “Grandma’s chair or Auntie’s chair.”  The chair also has to have the correct tilt so it “invites you” to sit it. Lastly it has to “feel good” to the person.

Harold has one on one classes showing how to make the chair. The class includes the wood and allows you to keep the forms if you want to make more on your own.